I got an email from someone who said, among other nicer things (like she liked my last book), it sounds as if I or maybe my friends are threatened by writers who are "willing to go that extra mile to get the word out about their books."

I don't think my friends are threatened (having a contract keeps you secure). I suppose I am, to a degree. I purposefully ignore the fact that this publishing thing is a zero sum game and I don't like to be reminded of it. Ugh.

I've done the extra mile thing--rarely to the point where I'm uncomfortable-- and I've discovered that even if promo can be fun, it can get in the way of actually writing and I'm back to wanting to be a writer. The answer is, I'm not giving up the extra mile, just not trying to beat my time or keeping careful track of anyone else's. I'm willing to go an 11 minute extra mile, say. Long distance extra miles.

Hey! Also? If a writer gets energized by getting dressed up or doing fun stunts or holding creative contests--I'll be cheering with the crowds. I love looking at pictures of RT and hearing about the fun. I'm rarely one to snark about that kind of stuff, well, okay sometimes maybe, but it's friendly, happy snark. Buddy snark.

What I'm really threatened by is the same thing everyone always fears--losing a job because you can't compete. Duh. And if the official job description changes too much, I'll be left behind. Kind of first wife syndrome.


  1. Nora Roberts3:38 PM

    I tried to post before, but I think I hit the wrong button. Anyway.

    Everyone makes their own choices about how to present themselves. And everyone has an opinion on that presentation.

    Mine is, leave the costumes home.

    How often do we ask, or are we asked: Why doesn't Romance get any respect? This, imo, is one of the reasons. When writers choose to dress in costumes or outlandish clothes at a professional, public, media-attended event, obviously, these are exactly the ones the media will focus on.

    And so goes our image, again.

    We're silly, foolish, not serious writers.

    Personal choice, and again, not threatening to me. But I do get tired, tired, TIRED of defending the genre, its writers and its readers year after year after year, then watching others prefer to be foolish just for the attention.

    Yes, RWA is also about fun, but it is a PROFESSIONAL event. Again, imo, how we present ourselves professionally matters.

    We don't have to wear a uniform or look like executives, but we should--I feel--think and think seriously about the image we choose to portray.

    And if that image is goofy, well, it's kinda hard to whine about lack of respect.

  2. Nora, I wonder if whole "romance is not real writing" attitude is finally passing. Or at least not as prevalent?

    And my current(as of five minutes ago) theory is that the rise of epublishing is like the next wave of immigrants. The new form of book makes NY pubbed romance appear old and established--and therefore more worthy of respect.

    With Italians flooding the city, the Irish will be better tolerated. Or something.

    Then again, I'm looking out over a little, tiny e-world...Huh. I'm not sure what the non-virtual world is like any more (too many cars).

  3. PS That's basically separate from the whole issue of how far to go to sell books, appropriate dress at conferences etc.

    Yet another tangent.

  4. Mine is, leave the costumes home.

    I'm not sure I agree entirely. There are costumes, and then there are costumes. I thought Mancusi and Maverick looked like they were having a bit of good-natured fun; nothing was especially outrageous, and they looked stylish and put-together. It helped that they're young and gorgeous, too. It's not like they were trying to be the new Man Faye, you know? Or even Certain Historical Romance Authors who'd dress up to look like their covers.

  5. With me there's a line - Mancusi and Maverick were behind it and Kenyon gleefully sprinted across wearing a huge-ass swan hat. So I guess I'm saying "don't leave them at home" but "stop and think before acting." I'm not very much help here I am?

    I totally see where Nora's coming from because God knows I'm fed up with having to defend my choice of reading material to other readers and some of my colleagues. At this point I've given up on eloquence and have started flipping them the bird (OK, not really - but I think about it). I can only imagine how horribly frustrating it is for authors who hear "When are you going to write a real book?" ever other day.

  6. Nora Roberts8:07 PM

    As I said on SB, the young women were very, very pretty. But I think they straddled a shaky line. And why? They would have been very, very pretty anyway.

    And yes, from my standpoint, Kenyon roared right over the line.

    I did ten interviews in Dallas. Ten. And I see a popular author walking around a public event with a big bird on her head. And I wonder, why the hell did I bother? Why not just write my books and say no to the media when they want to ask me why Romance is valid and important and real?

    Frankly, I don't need the publicity in the local Dallas paper--no offense. I did the interviews because I respect and value the genre.

    And there were plenty there that thought the Kenyon costume was great--fun, a hoot, whatever. Who's to say where the line in once you start dressing up? I only know where mine is.

    We want respect. We talk about it constantly. And yet.

  7. Don't Sci Fi people dress up as their characters alot? I thought I read that this is where the trend started. I guess I understand where you are coming from Nora, but to me the covers are the big issue. So long as man titty is our pre-eminent symbol no respect can follow.

    There is one very prominent blogger who continues the glorification of the man titty. This is not to say I don't like to gaze at a pretty face/abs/legs now and then, but when our genre is defined by it, it is easy to see where we get labeled as porn.

    In the great scheme of things, I see Kenyon's hat and dental issues as strange but low on the totem of what drags us down.

  8. Oh geez Jane, don't get us started on the covers. I would also add how some romance readers (yes, romance readers) justify reading the genre by saying, "It's not like I read Harlequins." Yeah, I've heard that one more than once too - and it never fails to get my panties in a wad.

    When it comes down to it, I'm leaning towards Nora on this argument. Might be because I've worked with more than one "professional" librarian who would openly disparage the genre to my face. That gets real old, real quick - and I'm unfortunately one of those people who never has the right zippy one-liner ready when opportunity knocks.

  9. Nora Roberts8:26 PM

    We can't control the covers. We can control how we present ourselves.

    We're not SF--which has a different sort of culture.

    I agree it's low on the totem pole, but it's there. Until we fully respect ourselves, and don't feel we need to be outrageous in order to get noticed, why should the media or those outside the genre respect us?

    And just as it's easy to think of writers as one brain with many arms on blogs, it's really, really easy for the media, etc to lump us all together. And they will, invariably, pick the most foolish or controversial when painting us all with the same brush.

  10. another tangent. What are the media these days? Newspapers? Candy's site? USAtoday online?

    In my tiny eworld, obviously the influence of bloggers and ebooks is growing.

    Will that eventually make the monolithic media splinter or will everyone just pick up the same message and blast it out in a thousand different formats?

    And the big question is will it mean MORE interviews or fewer for people who represent romance.

  11. I just tried to imagine ten interviews.

    Never mind answering the tangential questions, Nora. You get enough.

    Still I do wonder if anyone out there keeps track of romance's image. I think it's improving.

    I swear in the last year I have actually read a few articles in papers about romance that did not use the words bodice ripping.

  12. All I know is this: if I ever get published, I'm going to be damned happy and proud of it. If anyone gives me crap about it, I'll say, "I just published a novel. What have you done lately?"

    I suppose if I'm feeling less rude, I'll say, "I wrote something that (hopefully) a lot of people will have fun with. I've entertained people, and there's real value in that."

    (How's that for arrogance -- not even published, and I'm looking forward to my first interview.)

  13. I'm with Doug on this one. I'm gonna pull the Southern saying outta my ass and slap it on the table, "I'm pleased as punch to be here." I don't think I need a costume as I am a walking costume most of the time - by accident - of course.


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